Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Atheist Lolita"...?

Okay, so this entry might ruffle some petticoats and as a disclaimer, I'd first of all like to point out that I do not mean to offend anyone or their religious feelings here. I just though about this topic for a while now, so I thought I'd write a few words about my opinion!
If you have very strong feelings about your religion/belief you might not want to read this, but if you are feeling open for a discussion I'd be happy if you leave me a comment with your opinion!

Now that this is out of the way, let's start with a proper introduction.
In the last few weeks I've come across several articles online which describe "Muslim Lolita" as a new fashion trend. Mostly shared by Lolita friends on facebook or twitter, I was surprised to see the media catch up on this topic now, after all to my knowledge these girls have been around for quite some time. First of all, I have to say that all of the images I have seen so far of Alyssa and Noor, the two girls who seem to have pioneered this "style", look really really great and I think the do a great job incorporating their hijab into their coords. However, it makes me wonder if the simple fact that these girls are muslim and wear a hijab to their coords is really sufficient to call this an entirely new "fashion trend", or even a substyle.


Lolita has many substyles - from Sweet to Gothic to Classic, all have a few defining characteristics and elements which make them what they are. Sometimes, new subsytles or sub-substyles arise, such as OTT Sweet, Bittersweet or OTT Classic. Looking back at F Yeah Lolita's predictions about ridiculous substyles from 2011, I cannot help but chuckle every time I see a picture of Meta's Bubble Bath print or someone wearing book-styled items as fashion accessories.




The "ridiculous" predictions that still somehow came true to a certain extent show that the fashion is vast and people can draw their inspiration from virtually anything. There are prints featuring carousels, unicorns, mermaids, birds, cats, dogs (even Doge!) and - yes, there are also lots of dresses which feature crosses or other religious symbols, or draw their inspiration from religious places such as the various stained glass prints.
Yet the latter are still part of a certain subsytle - usually Gothic or Classic - and nobody would call a Lolita wearing a dress with crosses "Christian Lolita". If a Christian Lolita decides to wear a print with crosses or crosses as accessories, would that make it a new substyle?

Now arguably, the meaning of the cross as a religious symbol for Christianity has been kinda "washed out" over the time, and it is nowadays perhaps also associated with European culture/architecture - especially to people overseas - and of course also Satanism and the occult to some extent. It also still holds its original symbolic meaning of torture and pain, at least for anyone familiar with the origin of the object and its name, the Latin word "cruciare" - to torture and to "nail to the cross", to crucify. Ultimately, the meaning of this symbol is different depending on who you ask. In that way, it is very different to the muslim tradition of women wearing a headscarf. While a person wearing a print with crosses is not automatically assumed to be a believer of the Christian faith, a person wearing a hijab is most likely assumed to be muslim. Wearing it is a much stronger "statement".

Yet, does all this make "Muslim Lolit" a new fashion trend?
I think the articles that circulate online about Alyssa and Noor and this new "trend" fail to understand Lolita fashion in general. One or two people wearing Lolita clothing in a particular way do not yet make a new substyle. Even if such a "movement" gains popularity, each substyle is also defined by certain rules - in the case of Bittersweet, there's the main simple rule that it's a Sweet-themed print in pastel colors with black being the main color. People starting to change one aspect about their coords and do something that was not particularly popular before do not create a new substyle yet - for example, nobody would get the idea to call "Wig Lolita" a substyle or even a particular trend, just because there are (actually lots of) Lolis who wear wigs while others prefer to style their real hair.

But I think the strongest argument against calling "Muslim Lolita" a new "trend" in the Lolita scene, is that this new trend would not be inclusive. Already now some people claim that crowns that look like the halos in Christian paintings and of statues, or certain symbols from other religions like Judaism or Buddhism, should not be incorporated into a fashion as an accessory because it would be "cultural appropriation". Outside of Lolita, I also remember a fuss in the Gyaru scene a few years back about someone wearing Bindi, a traditional Hinduistic decoration of the forehead. These symbols are much more strongly associated with their corresponding religion and people of that religion might be offended if a non-believer were to wear this symbol as a fashion accessory. "Muslim Lolita" has its limitations in that very aspect - and I wonder if the girls interviewed for these articles would be very happy to see other, non-muslim Lolitas starting to wear head scarfs as a fashion accessory.

The decision to wear this symbol of their beliefs is their own, but for me it has nothing to do with the fashion. There is no rule that states you must use only your real hair for Lolita or a wig. There are people who wear wigs, half-wigs, extensions, hats, veils, books or even freaking ships on their head. It's not like Lolita fashion defines itself by the hairstyle you chose and as long as it suits the outfit, pretty much anything is allowed. Similarly, the muslim Lolis chose the colors of their hijab to match their outfits and on first glance on the first pics I saw of them, I didn't even realize that this was not simply their hair or a wig.

The articles I read describe "Muslim Lolita" like a new trend that arose and will likely gain popularity. Yet the wording "Muslim Lolita" makes it sound like any other substyle of the fashion, like "Gothic Lolita" or "Sweet Lolita". But the girls I see in the pictures are wearing Sweet Lolita, or Classic Lolita, or whatever else they chose - the simple fact that they also wear their hijabs does not change that fact and does not turn this into a new trend or fashion substyle. The Vice interview with Alyssa was one of the better written articles on the topic that I came across. They made an effort to understand the fashion and do not call it a new trend. Essentially, this is what it boils down to: Alyssa and Noor are Muslim girls wearing Lolita with their hijab. There are other Muslim Lolitas not wearing a hijab. While I am happy for each and everyone who finds this fashion, likes it and feels happy in the "scene", I feel like the better approach to talk about this "phenomenon" would be to encourage people of all beliefs, ethnicities and genders to join the fashion if they like it, and try to incorporate who they are into their coordinates  - simply be yourselves! After all, Alyssa and Noor show that it can be done, many Brolitas show that it can be done, and ultimately every non-Asian person shows that it can be done.

I think we should approach this topic from a different angle - it is about who you are "outside" of  Lolita. While wearing Lolita, this is something all of us share and something "inclusive". Substyles have to do with the fashion itself and what you wear is your choice within the fashion's boundaries. But your life outside of Lolita is what really makes the members of this community such a diverse group. Even in our relatively small country of Austria we have Lolitas of different age groups, professions/occupations, different original Nationalities and most likely different beliefs. Yet we are all dressing in Lolita - and are not "High School Lolita", "Office Lady Lolita", "Scientist Lolita" or "Med student Lolita". Perhaps I was so affected by this topic because for me especially, the me "outside" of Lolita is very different from my "Lolita self". I am so many things, but when I dress up in Lolita I am just happy to be part of the community. There is no need for me to point out the differences concerning my private life for the sake of an argument - everyone is aware that they are there, that each of us has a different back story. But at the meet up, we are all Lolitas - no matter if you wear a wig, hat, real hair, cupcake or hijab on your head.


Well, I guess in the end my opinion on this does not really matter anyway. But I'm curious how other people - especially the Lolitas among my readers - think about this topic.
Let me know in the comments!

8 comments:

  1. I find it in poor taste to label it "Muslim Lolita". Nobody calls black girls wearing Lolita fashion "Black Chick Lolita" because it's ridiculous and rather offensive sounding. Although the hijab is coordinated it doesn't make the outfit or drastically change the style, is just a Muslim girl wearing Lolita. I don't mean to be rude, but are people really this daft?

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    1. That's a perfect comparison.
      I'm curious if the girls themselves would actually even call themselves that or if they are even aware that this is the term that some more "mainstream" media outlets use.

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  2. I think this once more showcases the need for categorization our society seems to have. People seem to be eager to put a label on literally everything that is unusual to them.

    Personally what this fashion is about for me is just being myself and having fun with the fashion and not even wasting one thought about "Which category of Lolita am I actually wearing?" - I just wear whatever I want and feel comfy in and I guess exactly the same goes for Lolitas who incorporate their religious way of living into Lolita fashion. As you mentioned, bringing our personalities into our style makes each of us unique in this fashion. I also agree that the term "trend" is simply misused here, because I don't see people who aren't Muslim starting to wear hijab in Lolita anytime soon.

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    1. Good point. It just makes me cringe when people in the media are so enthusiastic about something that - from an inside perspective - isn't even really "a thing" or is just so full of misinformation. It feels like they're just half-assing the whole article and just pasting some eye-catchig pictures there to get the clicks and attention of people who are intrigued but also the Lolita community. Though the Vice article is okay I guess, they make it more about her personal story than anything else.
      Anyway, sometimes I just feel that if media can't be bothered to properly research what they are writing about I'd rather they don't write about it at all ^^"

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  3. Also ich glaube kaum, das irgendeine Lolita denkt, "Muslim Lolita" ist ein neuer Modetrend. Das Wort haben bestimmt auch nicht die muslimischen Lolitas erfunden, sondern die Medien, die weder Ahnung von Lolita noch von Mode generell haben. Muslim Lolita klingt halt interessant.
    Aber ich denke, die Medien wollen eher zeigen, dass nun auch muslimische Frauen sich trauen, andere Modestile als deren typische Kleidung (also lange Röcke, langärmelige Sachen in unauffälligen Farben) zu tragen. Und in dem Sinne ist es ein neuer "Trend" unter muslimischen Frauen, Lolita zu tragen bzw. sich modisch etwas zu trauen.

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    1. Ich denke auch nicht dass jemand der Lolita Mode wirklich kennt glaubt dass das ein neuer Trend ist. Vielemehr finde ich es schade dass das Wort so verwendet wird, weil es einfach einen total falschen Kontext erzeugt, und wie Ladyfair schon meinte, es klingt irgendwie auch einfach geschmacklos.
      Wenn diese Artikel wirklich eher darauf abzielen würden zu zeigen dass auch vermehrt muslimische Mädchen und Frauen extravagantere Mode tragen, dann wäre das ja eher ein "sozialer Trend", dann finde ich hätte man das auch ganz anders darstellen und schreiben müssen. Nämlich eher als "Muslim girls wearing Lolita Fashion" und nicht es so darstellen als hätte das irgendwas mit einem "modischen" Trend zu tun.

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  4. Ich muss Miuko recht geben. Das is einfach ein Artikel der irgendwann im Internet auftauchte und dann von anderen Plattformen kopiert wurde. Von denen hat keiner genug über Lolita Mode recherchiert. Ich habe auch einmal so einen Artikel gesehen und ihn nicht mal zu Ende gelesen. Meiner Meinung nach richtet sich der Name des Stils nach der Kleidungsart (wobei hier wieder zu diskutieren wäre: eigentlich ist das Kopftuch ja ein Teil der Lolitakleidung, also wieso nicht …).
    Du hast im Artikel kurz die (für mich) Problematik mit dem Kreuz erwähnt. Ich hasse diesen Trend und ich hasse es, dass ich schwer etwas aus dem Bereich Gothic und Kuro Lolita finde, das keine Kreuze hat. Ich will nicht mit dem Christentum assoziiert werden - auch wenn das deswegen keiner macht, so wie du geschrieben hast. Dennoch verstehe ich den Trend ums Kreuz einfach nicht. Ich frage mich, ob einige der Leute, die ein Kreuz in irgendeiner Weise tragen, überhaupt die Symbolik und Geschichte kennen.
    Aber was solls. Ich werde seit Jahren als Satanist bezeichnet, nur weil ich immer schwarze Kleidung trage. Das kommt mir jetzt irgendwie bekannt vor …

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